Three of the largest broadcast TV networks have sent a cease-and-desist letter to RedLasso , a little-known but rapidly growing video syndication site.
Fox News Network, NBC Universal, and CBS sent a letter on Monday, accusing the company of "building a business based on the unauthorized syndication of" the content owners' news, sports, and entertainment shows.
RedLasso records TV shows and then indexes clips so users can find, pull, and embed them on other Web sites. Reporter Liz Gannes over at Newteevee.com saw this one coming. Two weeks ago, Gannes noted that RedLasso had grown from 2 million unique users in November to 24 million in April.
Gannes wrote: "Now might be a pretty good time to get permission."
She added later that RedLasso executives told her they were on good terms with broadcasters. The executives' assertions, however, are untrue, the networks said in their letter to RedLasso. In the letter, the entertainment companies wrote that such statements "falsely convey an affiliation...when there is none."
At a time when the networks are giving their content away for free, one has to wonder why RedLasso would even get into this business. Anyone can go to Hulu and grab embed code for many NBC Universal shows without violating the law.
I was in Los Angeles for the Digital Hollywood conference earlier this month and there was plenty of discussion about the influx of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs moving in to make deals with the studios. The big entertainment companies were more open to cutting deals than ever, insiders told me.
They also said that partnerships awaited those that could help the entertainment industry solve problems of advertising, marketing, and syndication on the Internet.
Executives from King of Prussia, Pa.-based RedLasso were unavailable for comment.
Disclosure: CBS has agreed to acquire CNET Networks, publisher of News.com. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.